I sent my evil minions to infiltrate the PAX Expo this year, win over or corrupt the hearts and minds of game developers, and report their mission success back to me at the conclusion of the PAX event. Chernoble was the only one who was able to do this while flirting with booth babes, and going to invitation only parties in the evenings. I seriously hope he got to grab some of that ass that is surrounding him in the picture above. Before we get too sidetracked with the pretty ladies above, take a look at Chernoble's PAX review where he meets up with SWTOR folks, TRION/Rifts/EoN people, and the Grizzly Adams twins Joe Hostile and Isaiah Cartwright from GW2. Hades-LotD Guildmaster PAX Report by: Chernoble-LotD Pax 2010 is the first gaming convention that I ever attended and oh what a ride! Although I could talk for hours on all the cool shit I saw and all the amazing games coming out for multiple platforms I am going to stick to what LotD does best and that is MMOG’s! My main reason for going to PAX2010 was to see Star Wars the Old Republic with my own eyes and of course other games on the horizon. It was also partially because I would like to see more of and become more connected to the big picture when it comes to the gaming community, especially the MMO community. I saw tons amazing things and wicked games for multiple platforms including the XBox, the Wii, PC and even some of the cool card, dice and board games. It was a fantastic weekend of geeks and gamers in an awesome city that I will try to make a pilgrimage too every year from now on! The main thing I wanted to do while I was down there was check out the upcoming MMO’s because as of late we have been dealing with some fairly weak, short lived titles. The major titles I was most interested in checking out were (obviously) Star Wars the Old Republic and Guild Wars 2. Now if you read our forums, most of you know I have been carrying the flag for TOR for the better part of a year, ever since some of the failed games we have been dealing with over the past 2 years have brought frustration and boredom to many of our guild members. Upon entering the main exhibition hall for most of the PC games the first thing that drew my eye was the massive Guild Wars 2 booth attached to the NCSoft area. Being locals, the Arenanet crew has somewhat of a “hometown advantage” in that they can pull out all the stops and have a large crew of staff to help promote their game. Even with that in mind, the Arenanet crew took it above and beyond! The GW2 booth was constantly full! There was either a line up all the way around it for T-shirts or people lined up to try out the game on the regular PC’s or the 3D screens they had set up. Every few hours they were doing presentations on their stage and every time there was a presentation the booth was overflowing with people trying to absorb as much as they could about the upcoming game. Their booth was set up very well with multiple PC’s for the 40 minute trial with strong rigs and nice flat screens. What really took the display to another level was the large flat screen HDTV’s they had above the testing areas so that the people in line would be entertained with the amazing game play of the person in front of them in super high def. While waiting and watching I was treated with Guild Wars 2's beautiful graphics, rich environments and fluid game play while watching low and mid level content. They had tons of staff on hand to answer any question you had and help you out in any way they could to make your experience top notch! When the basement dweller in front of me was finally forced to give up the PC after using every last second of his 40 minute trial I was able to jump in and take a closer look for myself! I decided to make a lowbie Elementalist as I had not seen many people try them and I wanted to get a broader perspective on a class I may not play at release. Although detailed character creation was not enabled for the test, I found that the characters looked great even at low level with decent looking newbie gear. Even though I was such a low level the beginning quests get you immediately get involved in the troubles that the new world you are thrust into is dealing with, engrossing you into the fight! After the first few quests I was asked to go and help battle this huge elemental that was way cooler than the average Hogger you have dealt with in other games! Although I would have liked to spend more time on the game I decided not to be like basement dweller before me and let the next guy have a try but stuck around to watch some of the other testers battle a gigantically epic dragon in the mid level content test stations. Guild Wars 2 is definitely more polished, fun and exciting than I gave it credit for before attending PAX and seeing it for myself. I am definitely going to be picking this one up when it releases and I know our Guild is going to enjoy this one! A huge hats off to the Arenanet crew!! Of course, being the fan boy that I am, I went immediately next to the Lucas Arts booth to see Star Wars the Old Republic! I have to say that they kind of got the shaft in location on the exhibition hall floor. They were tucked away in a corner which made it much more difficult for people to form lines around their testing stations and talk to their team. They had an amazing display there with a huge picture of the Sith badass in the cinematic combined with a bunch of testing stations on 22-24”monitors which was pretty cool. They definitely should have taken a page from the GW2, Rift and End of Nations booths and had 32”+ high def screens above their testing stations to dazzle the fans in line. They had something similar but it was just the same, regular monitors they were using for their stations, raised above the test stations. This made it difficult to get a good look at the game play being tested unless you were right up the tester in front of you’s ass. I did get a brief chance to talk to an End of Nations (EoN) developer about his game. He seemed interested in our offer to help shape the game after a brief conversation which made me pleased enough to get in line and give it a shot. I ended up going to one of the stations displaying the Sith Warrior. I have to say that the game looks pretty good so far. The feel of the game is very similar to what you can expect from a very recent MMO. They definitely try to make you feel epic by allowing you to take on multiple enemies at any given time and allowing you to achieve abilities greater than your regular mob. The Sith Warrior reminded me very much of my WoW warrior with some pizzazz added in. I don’t consider this a bad thing as I really enjoyed my WoW warrior. I didn’t stay on the game long as I just wanted to get a small taste for it and there was still so much to see at the exhibition. After testing it for myself, I would have to say that Star Wars the Old Republic is still pretty early in development. I don’t know if it was their server set up but it was pretty laggy and choppy compared to a few of the MMO’s I got to try on the floor. Although I did enjoy the things I saw, I definitely felt underwhelmed compared to what I expected from a game supposedly releasing in spring 2011. Their team was friendly though and ready to answer some questions. I had the opportunity to meet the charming and intelligent Allyson Bridge and talk to her about my concerns with their booth at the convention and stage of development within the game. She did assure me that there was a lot of work they aren’t showing us yet and not to be too concerned, which I hope will comfort some. Yes I did get to attend their panel on Saturday evening. Although I did enjoy the part where Daniel Erickson (who is a genius and earns all my respect by telling us how it is even if we don’t want to hear it) came out for Q & A, I was very disappointed in their entire presentation which was basically the same info that is available to anyone with an internet connection right now. This was kind of a letdown for a guy who travelled all the way from Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan to Seattle to see exclusive SWTOR stuff! If I were to compare the two “big boys” of upcoming MMO’s I would say that Guild Wars 2 is definitely leaps and bounds ahead of Star Wars the Old Republic in development. I personally want BOTH to succeed but I can’t say who will “win” the (TOR) toise or the Hare (GW2). With the big boys out of the way, I will delve shortly into some games I hadn’t even really looked at before PAX but got the opportunity to check out. The first two are definitely going to be the great work coming out of Trion Worlds studios. This company is responsible for two anticipated titles that some of our members are following, namely RIFT: Planes of Telara and End of Nations. In approaching the booth I was immediately greeted by one of their community team, a guy named Erick, who made it his sole purpose in life for that moment, to get me to check their stuff out. Erick works for the End of Nations side of Trion and was probably more excited about taking our guild brochures (5!) to give to his whole team, Rift and EoN alike. Erick stated he had worked with our Guild master Hades and he was stoked to get guilds like us into the mix to test their stuff out! I immediately felt like home with the Trion crew and was treated like royalty even though all I produced was a Guild slick and a smile! End of Nations is an upcoming MMORTS and it looks great! I have to say that I did not try it out myself but that was more because of the fact that I have no idea how to play RTS’s well and will leave that up to our LotD RTS experts. What I can say is that it is graphically pleasing, it looks to run very smooth and they have grand plans to ensure the game focuses on Guild and large scale PvP efforts, not just the individual or 5v5 battles you see in a multiplayer RTS. If the enthusiasm, love and passion the team puts into their jobs spills into their games, it’s going to be a huge hit! I was given the opportunity to play RIFT: Planes of Telara, an upcoming MMORPG from Trion. Graphically it is beautiful and it plays smooth with a very similar play style the current MMO community is used to. It has what you expect, quests, dungeons and grouping with lots of gear to get and places to explore. What intrigued me were the class combinations you can come up with it. Some of our seasoned gamers may have experienced something similar in Guild Wars where you could really specialize your character to be unique with all the possible class combinations available. In this game, although I didn’t get to delve into it too deeply, it seems you can really branch out your character to develop them into something very unique. I won’t get too far into it as I would need to do more research but I’m sure if you look at their site they will describe it better than I ever could! Both games and their level of detail and development surprised me as I had not been paying any attention to either before PAX. I do have to send a huge thank you to the Trion crew and especially Erick for inviting my buddy and I to attend their PAX after party. They managed to top free food and an open bar with the most amazing hospitality and friendliness. I was concerned that as just a gamer and a fan, that is no one in the industr,y I would just sit there with my friend, drink free beer and chill out, quite the contrary. The devs, community team and even the tech crew were super friendly and talkative, displaying a genuine passion for their projects rarely seen these days! Thank you again so much Trion for an amazing time! I hope for this studio that one or both of their games becomes the sleeper hit for 2011 and beyond! Last but not least I would like to speak a bit on the final MMO I explored at PAX; Tera Online. I did get a chance to give them a brochure but did not have time to play their game. I did take some time though, while talking to a member of their team, to watch others play and was quite impressed. The game looks amazingly beautiful, similar to what you would expect from AION, which is not surprising as this is a Korean game that Bluehole studios is bringing to the Western MMO world. What makes it different is the play style! Tera boasts a combat system very similar to what we saw in AoC and Darkfall. You don’t have a targeting system like you see in so many games today but you have a reticule! What this spells out to you and me is that you are going to have to have physical skills to play this game, not just uber gear and high levels. As I haven’t seen a game worth its salt use this mechanic in a while, it got me very excited! In talking to the developer I was chatting with, I asked if you could physically dodge magic, arrows, etc and he said yes which confirmed my wish of not just relying on evasion or resist character skills to be successful in a PvP encounter. The other cool thing about Tera Online is that there are no factions and that they are going to rely on the community and guilds to build their own politics on their server (sandbox maybe?). I tried to draw more information out of them about what that will spell out in players vs. player and guild vs. guild encounters but they remained fairly tight lipped, placating me with a promise that there will be reasons to want to go out and fight each other. Tera Online is another game that, if done correctly, could sneak right up on us and be fantastic! After cruising around PAX for 3 days, running around like a retarded kid on Halloween trying to take everything in I could, I still ended up trolling around the GW2 booth multiple times, hoping to catch a glimpse of more of the game and snag a picture with Izzy and Joe which I promised myself I would get before I left. In the very last moments before I left the Washington State Convention Center I got my wish and took this awesome pic of two really great guys who are working their asses off to bring the world and their Guild a fantastic, state of the art MMORPG! As I stated on Facebook after leaving PAX on Sunday, I had an amazing time and it won’t be my last!